Deathwatch: Is it almost over for Argos?

8 September 2011

retail deathwatch Okay, so that headline was probably a little bit over-dramatic, but there are some worrying noises coming out of the Home Retail Group, with a nine per cent drop in sales over the past three months.

They’ve said that the majority of the drop has come in electronics, with fewer gizmos and gadgets being sold, possibly as people begin to feel the pinch more than ever and cut down on the purchase of ‘luxuries’. Home Retail’s Homebase are also suffering, with 3.1 percent drop in like-for-like- sales in the same period.

Keith Bowman, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers, said overall, the outlook for Home Retail remains "extremely difficult". He said: "Pressure on the group's low-income customer base shows no sign of abating, while moves over recent years by the supermarkets into the electrical arena have arguably increased over-capacity."

We’re sure that there’s plenty of life left in the likes of Argos and Homebase, but there’s no doubt that they’re in a slump. Can you imagine life without them? We’re scared – hold us!

Oh, and if you’re on the board of directors at Morrisons, you probably won’t give a toss about any of this because you’ll be celebrating a 2.2% rise in like-for-like sales, pre-tax profits of £449m and 11.5 million customers hurling themselves into your stores every week.

TOPICS:   Economy


  • Billy
    Simple solution to cut down their costs. Why don't they move their stores to some of the UK's less deprived areas rather than having them placed within the High Street and major retail parks. It would slash their rents by 99% and save the vast majority of their customers from venturing out. Win/Win. Save on the bus fare and make our town centres more pleasant to the eye.
  • Phil76
    Having 2 or more shops in the same town is certainly not helping them. I don't know anyone who uses Argos 'cos they can walk to it, everyone seems to drive, so why not get rid of the duplicate stores (with apologies to the staff who may end up unemployed).
  • DeejaySF
    Electronics have gone down because they're more expensive than anywhere else.
  • TechLogon
    Argos aren't particularly cheap any more - that was the only reason I'd ever waste my time queuing to pay and then queuing again for their squirrels to finally emerge with the goods. Surprised Homebase survive - if they spent their perpetual '15% off' advertising cash on better stock levels, prices and staff instead they might still have a chance.
  • James
    close the tiny stores with minimal stock in high streets. when people go to argos they don't go in for a browse, they go in having already checked in stock online.
  • Gav
    Argos' problems with electricals are the prices, simple as that. As for their stores. Sheffield now has five, why? I'm guessing each store is proftable if looked at as a single entity but surely they are also taking sales from other Argos stores?
  • Captain
    Price is the killer for me. I'll check Argos first and then Amazon and and perhaps a couple of other places. Usually someone is a good few quid cheaper and with free delivery (hint there, Argos...) it is a no-brainer. Only go to Argos if they are the same price or I need it today. Doesn't help also when the price in the book isn't the same as in store, about a week after the book was picked up new... They used to honour the book price, no more.
  • Dunky
    Just went to Argos..priced a game for the WII..£24.99.....crossed the road and bought it from Currys...£12.99... They'd not be missed if they did go..although it would mean I'd have to go to the bookies for my free pencils!
  • Dick
    I also find their catalogues a useful source of fuel.
  • kv
    they gotta stop printing catalogues and sort out the website if they want to turn it around
  • Richard M.
    Hang on there, Argos are still good for the things you can't get from Amazon, like....err....mmm...err....I'll think of something in a minute!
  • Me
    "Hang on there, Argos are still good for the things you can’t get from Amazon, like….err….mmm…err….I’ll think of something in a minute!" Got one! - Argos Catalogues. Amazon never has those. Otherwise I'm stumped
  • PMC
    Reading this and the amazon lockers makes me wonder if Argos shouldn't try and switch focus and try to emulate amazon and just keep their smaller stores as existing "lockers" for delivery. Order online, get it sent to the nearest store, their network's already in place as Amazon just start to build their high street presence. Either that or just sell the whole lot to Amazon and have done with if they're looking for floor space. Argos have been crap for years. Over priced items, catalogues out of date, poor website, inept staff, and utter tat in their jewellery that only the chavviest chav would buy. Time to say g'bye i think. The only good think they have is the stock checker on the website. Tho they never have the stock when you check for it...
  • Dick
    > utter tat in their jewellery that only the chavviest chav would buy. Which is why they have done reasonably well in the past, and probably will in the future.
  • oliverreed
    Bought an in-car DVD from Argos using the reserve service - online. It was £100 online, £140 instore. The item was collected on my behalf and the £140 was paid without question. I went back instore and the jumped up cunt of a manager agreed to pay me the refund, just this once, stating they don't have to match online prices. Right then I think, playing Mr Clever Cunt at his own game - I asked how to I determine the instore price whilst I'm online. However Mr Clever Cunt gave me a wonderful exclusive piece of advice, second only to advice from Gandhi, Yoda or Jesus. Please ensure you are sitting down when you read the following - it's earth shattering..... "Walk into the store and use the automated reserve kiosks, enter the reservation number, if you don't like the price - walk away!" Argos sucks cock, the only store ever to persuade people to queue 2/3 times for the same shopping experience.
  • diana
    While the convenience of walking to get something from Argos can be good (no, I don't drive nor know someone with car, Phil76), in recent years, I've increasingly had other options which I use more - supermarkets or cheaper items ordered from online in particular. Argos isn't the cheapest any more as people have said, to the point that I don't even bother to check it.
  • james D.
    Swansea has 3 argos stores and a population of 230k Ever think about closing one argos?
  • Charlie h.
    I think argos serves a purpose for me it allows me to mingle with and find out what poor people look like so when I run one some one in overfinch it allows me to make the decision of stopping or driving off - can poor people afford lawyers ?
  • knowsitall
    electronics are low-margin anyway in most cases. in simple terms, selling fewer iPods and digital cameras will most certainly affect their total turnover (and it won't look good on paper) but would make far less of a dent in their net profit than say if they had a similar drop in furniture or homeware sales. I suppose though if the lost sale of an iPod also means the lost sale of a few accessories though that will have a more significant impact as the accessories are where the money is when it comes to that sector.
  • Helen C.
    The headline was rather over-dramatic, but this does seem to be more than just a blip. I agree with other comments that the supermarkets and other online alternatives appear to be squeezing Argos' market share, and it will be interesting to see how/if they can reverse the trend.
  • Raggedy
    @Charles de Havaload Poor people don't need to afford lawyers. It's called Legal Aid. Rich people can afford lawyers so it's only the poor sods in the middle that get clobbered. Got a job but not paid footballer's or banker's wages? We are the new poor.
  • Tim
    "Got one! – Argos Catalogues. Amazon never has those." Searched on Amazon, and sure enough they do. Catalogue by Argos Distributors (Unknown Binding - 1975) 2 new from £0.01 Argos Catalogue Autumn / Winter 2009 by Argos (Paperback - 2009) 1 used from £20.00 Used... £20!
  • Raveer
    Argos must be tops of the slowest most inefficient website in the world. By the time their page loads I've forgotten what I was ordering. Probably too busy gathering stats of ntheir dwindling customer base to pass on to Google.
  • Nik
    Argos do themselves no favours with their frequent promotions which just lead to loads of people hitting the website before discovering that nowhere in the Country has stock of the item. So much of their competitively priced stock seems to be unavailable for home delivery and you have to spend half an hour checking two stores at a time to find any stock, before finally giving up when you discover it would cost you £100 in petrol to collect it. There is such a thing as bad publicity.
  • David A.
    Check and Reserve is a great selling point for Argos, but there are so many other stores starting to sell this way - including Amazon. However, checking only a couple of stores at a time - particularly in London is not user friendly. Luckily, there's some great websites out there for checking stock at Argos, including that will search Argos and other stores.
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